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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 June 2007, 08:51 GMT 09:51 UK
Japanese ex-leader Miyazawa dies
Former Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa
Mr Miyazawa was a key figure in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party
Former Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa has died at the age of 87, Japanese media has reported.

A veteran lawmaker whose career spanned several decades, Mr Miyazawa served as prime minister from 1991 to 1993.

He was finance minister twice, in the late 1980s and again in the late 1990s as Japan struggled with recession.

He is also remembered as the world leader upon whom US President George Bush Snr was sick during a state dinner in Tokyo.

Mr Miyazawa died of natural causes at his home in Tokyo, an aide told the Associated Press.

Finance expert

A graduate of the elite Tokyo University, Mr Miyazawa served in the finance ministry before his election to parliament in 1953.

He rose through the ruling party ranks, holding several key cabinet posts including foreign minister and chief Cabinet secretary.

In 1986 he was named finance minister - a position from which he was later forced to resign over an influence-buying scandal.

He returned as prime minister three years later, in November 1991.

A fluent English speaker, Mr Miyazawa was a long-term advocate of better ties with the rest of Asia.

Under his administration, a law which allowed Japanese troops to take part in UN peacekeeping operations was passed - the first such move since the end of WWII.

But his term was cut short when ruling party rebels backed a no-confidence motion, triggering a snap election which briefly ousted the Liberal Democratic Party for the first time since its establishment in 1955.

In 1998, as Japan struggled with financial woes, Mr Miyazawa was brought back in as finance minister by Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, to turn around the country's stagnant economy.

He served until the election of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in April 2001 and then retired from parliament in 2003.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki described him as "a very knowledgeable politician".

"He taught us a lot about his life as a witness of history," he said.




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